Salt Lake County's new equal-employment officer will decide whether the sheriff needs to change the way he hires and promotes employees, officials have decided.

The county's executive council, made up of commissioners and other administrators, rejected plans Monday to form a committee to study whether the system should be changed to allow more women and minorities to qualify as deputies.Instead, Bonnie Nell, the county's equal-employment officer, has been assigned to study the sheriff's system and write recommendations.

"I don't think you'll solve anything by committee," said County Attorney Dave Yocom, who along with Sheriff N.D. Hayward claims the sheriff does not discriminate against women and minorities.

Commission Chairman Bart Barker organized a committee last year to study discrimination in the county. The committee released a report describing widespread discrimination and harassment but did not specify which county agencies were the worst offenders.

The sheriff's hiring practices came under scrutiny because a local attorney charged that Hayward hires far too few women and minorities. The attorney threatened legal action on behalf of disgruntled women unless commissioners forced a change.

Barker's committee recommended the Public Safety Merit Commission, the sheriff's grievance board, be combined with the Career Service Council, the grievance board for the rest of the county.

The sheriff vigorously opposed the plan. He also criticized the report for not being specific about abuses and for not identifying which employees were interviewed.